LUCHS’ REVELATIONS WON’T CLEAN OILY OOZE;
So you didn’t think there was any upside to Washington State
being the Officer Barbrady of
football these last couple of
At least when there isn’t a whiff of NFL talent on your team,
the likelihood plummets that a parasite will come slinking around
to lay a little bread on a player as earnest money now toward being
his agent later. Which means envious teammates won’t be cadging
similar handouts. Then when he’s disgraced and eyeing a book deal
15 years later, the ickball won’t re-emerge from the ooze to tell
all – and maybe embellish a good bit – to a national magazine,
dragging your school through the sleaze.
See? Isn’t all this losing worth it?
Well, suit yourself.
But if the Cougs ever truly make it back to competitive, some of
their guys are going to be bankable in the eyes of subspecies we’ll
call A Piece of the Action. And those fellows care not a whit about
antediluvian morality, the NCAA, its bloated rulebook or any
They care about a percentage.
Of course, many of the players feel the same way.
We know this because a couple of weeks back, the NCAA suspended
13 North Carolina
football players for doing business
too early with an agent who purportedly employed a Tar Heels
assistant coach as his wrangler. Before that, former USC running
back Reggie Bush returned his Heisman after the Trojans were put on
probation largely for goodies his family received from prospective
Surely he wasn’t the only Trojan taking money; just the only one
who burned someone and thus got ratted out to the NCAA.
And speaking of rats, now we have Josh Luchs, recently
excommunicated from NFL agenthood, baring his shady past for Sports
Illustrated – naming more than 30 players who he says took money
from him before their
college eligibility was exhausted.
Five of those names were once stitched across the backs of crimson
jerseys at WSU.
Three of them – Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley and John Rushing –
helped the Cougs to two bowl games in the early 1990s. Mobley
confirmed Luchs’ account to SI. Rushing declined comment. Hunter,
the only one drafted and now an assistant coach at Eastern
Washington, denied (see accompanying story) that he took so much as
a dollar – though he knew teammates who did.
Luchs also said he had Ryan Leaf, who quarterbacked the Cougs to
their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, on a monthly dole that Leaf,
after signing with a different agent, eventually paid back with
$10,000 in cash. Leaf has already copped to years of childish, rude
and even criminal behavior recently in an earnest effort to
rehabilitate himself and his image; for some reason, he would only
acknowledge knowing Luchs. Maybe he understands the cockeyed mania
that can forgive prescription drug abuse, but not defiling the
Oh, and in an extra-classy move, Luchs said his payroll also
included Leon Bender, who is no longer alive to defend himself.
This man must bathe in 30-weight.
Enough players have confirmed Luchs’ story that we can believe
some of it – but so what? Current events revealed as much. Do we
care about 15-year-old dirt because it was dished here? Heck, we
laugh now about Hugh McElhenny’s oft-told tale that he took a pay
cut to go from the
University of Washington to the NFL
a half century ago. There is an NCAA statute of limitations that
figures to derail any sanctions against the Cougars or other
vulnerable schools – not unlike bogus instant replay rules that
exist to “get the calls right,” but only in limited quantity.
But it’s clear that what Jose Canseco is to the culture of
Getting Juiced, Luchs aspires to be in the culture of Getting Paid
– and already there are corners proclaiming this story a
“blockbuster.” Except all it will do is get a few preening senators
to float some get-tough-with-agents legislation for their
re-election profile, and it hardly takes a blockbuster to do
A blockbuster would change the landscape, and this won’t. The
old British amateur ideal died its deserved death in golf, tennis
and, finally, the Olympic Games. It survives only in American
college athletics, as
universities sold themselves to
become the minor leagues for the NFL and NBA. Now, not just the
entertainment divisions of those institutions, but the academic
sides as well, get fat on the sweat and broken bones of young men,
who receive a
college education – not an
inconsiderable return, until it’s contrasted against the obscene
salaries of their coaches and the billions reaped in TV
The sad fact is, Josh Luchs was more up front about his endeavor
than the schools are. That’s hardly a flattering comparison.